Slugging: The New TikTok Trend

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Amid all the #SkinTok trends and must-try (aka must-buy) skincare hacks being shared by influencers as you scroll, it can be tricky to know what’s just an attention-grabbing gimmick versus what’s actually headline-worthy. Enter ‘slugging’, the skincare trend that’s been hyped up for a while and experts agree is actually, well, worth the hype.

With over 190 million views, #slugging promises baby smooth skin by following a simple practice: “applying an occlusive like petrolatum to the face before bedtime.” 

While most of us haven’t used petroleum jelly on our faces since we were kids, those in the skincare know are suggesting (rather enthusiastically) that we act like kids again, at least for the last step of our night time routine – slathering on a heavy-duty occlusive like petroleum jelly to lock in moisture and the other products we’ve used, resulting in a slimy film reminiscent of a slug. Hence the name… ‘slugging’.

Is slugging your new skincare friend, with benefits?

It could be, particularly if you struggle with dry skin – going to bed post-skincare all plump and dewy but waking up feeling like the love child of a day-old piece of toast and the Sahara Desert. Regular ‘slugging’ treatments offers great hydration and water retention leaving skin fresh in the morning and, over time, promoting and maintaining youthful-looking, bouncy skin.

Of all the benefits, barrier repair is one of slugging’s greatest claims to Tik Tok fame because it’s a really safe way to help restore the skin barrier and prevent surface water loss while enabling your serum and/or moisturiser to penetrate the skin more effectively.

It’s also really refreshing to come across a really affordable skincare trend that’s gaining so much traction. Inexpensive and effective? Yes, please! What it lacks in price tag it more than makes up for in delivering on the promise of a softer, smoother, more hydrated complexion.

Is slugging right for my skin type?

As with very other skincare step and product, the rule is simple: listen to your skin. If you’re wanting to give ‘slugging’ a go, go with your gut instinct – what do you feel your skin needs? If you have skin that tends to be dry, you’re a good candidate for slugging daily, but if you have oily skin you should proceed with caution – slugging might make breakouts caused by oil-prone skin worse.

While petrolatum-based ointments are non-comedogenic, and shouldn’t clog pores, whether slugging clogs your pores or not depends on what you apply before the slugging layer. The serum and moisturiser you apply really matters – an oil-based serum or another product that is more comedogenic may end up clogging pores and creating blemishes as result of the slugging layer locking in these oils, just as it locks in moisture and other skincare product ingredients.

Does slugging play well with other lotions and potions?

Steer clear of active ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or retinoids when slugging at night because, when trapped, these ingredients can score themselves added superpowers, increasing their strength beyond what was concentrated by a chemist, leading to unpredictable results on your skin.

Slugging is best paired with hydrating ingredients, because the practice of slugging itself isn’t hydrating – it doesn’t put moisturise into the skin, it keeps the moisturising products you’ve applied from getting out.

Want to try it? Here’s how…

If you’ve read all of the above and want to give it a try, here’s how to get going and (fingers crossed) glowing, with slugging:

  • Start with a clean face before applying products to the skin.
  • Make sure that the products you’re applying to damp skin are formulated to provide moisture.
  • Follow your usual skincare steps – cleanse, resurfacing, moisturise – and then apply the slugging (occlusive) product.

Set yourself up for slugging success

Preparation is key. You’ll want to finish all the steps of your skincare routine, including the slugging step, at least 30 minutes before bed to allow the products to really sink into the skin. And you’ll want to protect your pillowcase before laying your head down on it for your 7 to 9 hours of beauty sleep.

TIP: Place a towel over your pillowcase and keep your hair back in a sleep hat or headband.

With celebs from Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron to Lucy Liu and Jessica Simpson swearing by their pre-bed slugging routine as long-time fans of the practice, there must be some method to the madness. The verdict from this writer? With winter well and truly upon us, it’s definitely worth a try to keep dry, flaky, itchy skin at bay.

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